Blast gets its game in gear late, wins, 10-7


For the first three quarters last night at 1st Mariner Arena, the only sign of enthusiasm from the 5,713 on hand came when the "Chicken Dance" blared from the speakers.

Fortunately for the Blast, there were still 15 minutes left to make amends.

Playing down to the competition, the Blast needed a fourth-quarter burst to escape with a 10-7 win over the Major Indoor Soccer League's worst team, the Dallas Sidekicks.

Trailing 3-2 after three quarters and by 5-4 with 6:38 left, the Blast got consecutive two-pointers from Dewan Bader, Tarik Walker and Danny Kelly to avoid embarrassment and keep pace with the rest of the Eastern Conference pack.

The Blast, winner of five of its past six games, improved to 12-15 for the season, staying one game behind the Cleveland Force (13-14) for second place in the conference and moving a half game in front of the Harrisburg Heat (12-16 before its game in Milwaukee last night).

For Blast coach Bobby McAvan and his team, a win is a win, and, with nines games left, it doesn't matter how they come.

"Instead of finding a way to lose, we found a way to win," he said. "We missed some chances, we didn't keep possession of the ball like we've been and we were not effective getting players in the box. But we were able to grind it out."

The Sidekicks, with Tatu getting a last-minute assist in his final appearance as a player in Baltimore, fell to 7-21, occupying last place in the Western Conference.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Sidekicks took a 3-2 lead into the final 15 minutes, with Blast defender Billy Nelson providing some relief with a two-pointer to give the home team a 4-3 lead with 12:07 left.

The Sidekicks weren't through, reclaiming the lead on a goal by Nick Starvou before the Blast's offense woke up.

"I don't think we were looking past them at all," said Blast keeper Scott Hileman, who turned back 10 of 13 shots.

"A team like Dallas, the longer you let them hang around, the more life they get. We showed a lot of character, we defended well and took advantage of our opportunities when they came. We just have to take a positive from that."

Instead of jumping on a struggling opponent early to energize the home crowd, the Blast played the first half at a leisurely pace that provided the visitors hope and nearly put the fans to sleep.

Giuliano Celenza provided the only offense for the home team, finishing off a second chance at the right post for a 2-0 lead with two seconds left in the first quarter.

The Blast put 13 shots on Dallas keeper Sagu in the first 30 minutes, with plenty of others going high or wide.

That enabled the Sidekicks, with a surprise three-pointer from defender Eric Dade along the right boards, to take the 3-2 lead at the half.

Dallas 0 3 0 4 - 7

Blast 2 0 0 8 - 10

First quarter - 1, Blast, Celenza (unassisted) 2 pt., 14:58. Penalties -None. Second quarter - 2, Dallas, Dade (unassisted) 3 pt., 5:21. Penalties - None. Third quarter - None. Penalties - Penalties: Dallas, Valdivia, (dissent, five-minute misconduct), 0:00. Fourth quarter - 3, Blast, Nelson (Bowers) 2pt, 2:53; 4, Dallas, Stavrou (Doyle) 2pt. 8:22; 5. Blast, Bader (Celenza) 2 pt. 9:51; 6. Blast, Walker (Bowers) 2 pt. 10:29; 7. Blast, Kelly (unassisted) 2 pt., 14:14; 8. Dallas, Sutton (Tatu) 2 pt. 14:56. Penalties - None. Shots on goal - Dallas 5-6-3-11-25; Blast 7-7-12-6-32. Power-play opportunities - Dallas 0-0, Blast 0-0. Goalkeepers - Dallas, Sagu, 24 shots, 20 saves; Doyle 1 shot, 0 saves; Blast, Hileman, 13 shots, 10 saves. A - 5,713.

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